Effective Praise: Instill Good Behavior Through Positive Reinforcement, Not Through Bribery or Punishment

How do you discipline your child? Most of the parents would admit to having spanked their children at least once. In behavioral studies, 3 approaches to eliciting a desired behavior can also be found in parents’ discipline styles: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.

Positive reinforcement entails providing an event (like a reward or praise) that increases the probability of the desired behavior being repeated. With negative reinforcement, a desired behavior is drawn out through the elimination of an adverse event (e.g. child learns to wake up earlier for school every day because getting caught in traffic makes him nauseous). Punishment, often confused with negative reinforcement, involves increasing an adverse event to decrease or stop negative behavior.

Child experts agree that, of the 3, positive reinforcement is the best way to draw out positive behavior in children and even keep negative behavior in check.


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